Bible-Based Examples for Governing

By biblical clues it was once determined that the murder of Abel by his brother Cain had occurred in 3875 BCE.  Interestingly, the first year of the Jewish calendar is set as beginning in 3760 BCE—a mere 115 years later.  The brief and incomplete list that follows here, taken from  “holy Bible” stories, make it dishearteningly clear that the respect for life was not especially a high priority of too many biblical characters.  Perhaps this was inspired by god’s indifference.

The Deluge, whipped up by god himself with the sole intention of obliterating the human species, supposedly occurred in 2348 BCE—1,527 years after Abel was slain.  Oddly, part of the Lord’s instruction to Noah after unleashing the killing deed upon the Earth was the admonishment that Noah and his progeny must, among other listed immoral acts, refrain from committing homicide.  A case of do as I say, not as I do.  As you scan over these brief highlights from biblical tales, remember that the definition of murder is the unconscionable killing of a human being.  Of course there had been no code of law established in Eden; an embarrassing oversight for an all-knowing Creator.

In the time of Abraham, the alleged progenitor of the Israelites, the Lord is said to have saved Abraham’s son Isaac from being sacrificed by Abraham in 1860 BCE.  Obviously any tradition handed down from the time of Noah 488 years earlier did not include the admonishment to refrain from taking another person’s life.

By the most commonly accepted calculations, Moses did not receive any announcement against homicide until c. 1491 BCE—or 369 years after Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son, and 2384 years after Abel’s untimely demise.  It might be said that the commandment “thou shalt not kill” was a case of too little too late.  Even with this commandment as counsel, good old Joshua, the god-favored successor to Moses, is portrayed as happily indulging himself in holocaustic slaughter of countless Canaanites.

Then there is the tale of Jephthah, a blustery Israelite who was called upon by the Israelite elders to head off a threatened Ammonite attack in 1143 BCE.  Jephthah swore that if he won in battle then “…whatsoever cometh forth out of the doors of my house to meet me…” I will then offer it up for a burnt offering (2 Judges).  Well, Jephthah won the battle.  His “honor” supposedly demanded the ritual murder of his daughter, for in her joy to see his safe return his daughter had rushed out to meet him.  Was it Jephthah’s fault or god’s indifference that caused the girl to be burned to death?  Even god seems to have ignored his own edict not to kill that he had handed down only 348 years before, for he did nothing to save the girl.

412 years after the commandment not to kill had been handed down, King Saul of Israel is said to have indulged himself in a swift war of extermination against the Amalekites in 1079 BCE in which, the boast goes, every man, woman, babe, and child were “utterly destroyed.”  This was poor press for the children of god, but was made even worse by King Saul’s pitiless “prophet,” Samuel, depicted as having savagely chopped the captured and defenseless Amalekite King Agag into mincemeat with a sword.  Samuel also contributed to Israel’s gory glory by then promoting David (1040-973? BCE) for the throne.  And ultimately, 23 years after Saul’s slaughter of Agag, David is said to have succeeded Saul as King of Israel.

David was a master of deceit, mendacity, and bloodshed, and he followed the traditional pattern of killing everyone among a conquered people, including women, babes, and children..  He even had people killed “…lest they should tell on us…” (1 Samuel 27:11).  David’s list of slaughters and atrocities are too many to present here, but his open disregard for the sixth commandment makes it questionable why god could ever have considered him a worthy founder of a royal dynasty or to be the protector of the Ark of the Covenant.  David is commonly excused under the pretext that he displayed unfailing devotion to Jehovah.  Say What? 

Elijah, c. 910 BCE, had the Phenician prophets of Baal put to death to prevent them from muscling in on his hold on the official religion in Israel.  The myth goes that after the slaughter of Baal priests, rain and dew which god had grudgingly withheld for three years finally fell.  Besides destroying the priests of Baal, Elijah also caused the destruction of two companies of fifty innocent messengers c. 852 BCE who had been sent to him by King Ahaziah of Israel.  The eager anticipation of this “holy” man’s return to Earth became incorporated in Christian myth as spiritually fulfilled in John the Baptist.

Elisha, c. 896 BCE, another typically short-tempered and irascible Israelite “prophet,” displayed his disregard for the sixth commandment in his encounter with 42 unruly children on the road to Bethel.  The young delinquents allegedly teased him about his bald head.  In angry retaliation, holy Elisha is said to have cursed the children in the name of the lord and immediately two bears appeared and ripped the children to pieces.  The weak excuse for the god-assisted murder of 42 children is that the “prophet’ was weary and agitated from his fifteen mile hike from Jericho.  Elisha was not weary, however, when he hatched the conspiracy to seize the throne of Israel and elevate Jehu, the last son of Joram, as king.

Jehu, appointed by god and anointed by the “prophet” Elisha as king of Israel (c. 843? BCE), lost little time in setting out to exterminate his predecessor King Ahab’s seventy children as well as the priests of Baal.  (Hadn’t Elijah done away with Baal priests already?)  But true to form, here is what 2 Kings 10:30 says:  And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.  Thus blessed by god for his killing, Jehu, without an ounce of scruple, later ordered two or three eunuchs to throw his wife Jezebel out of a window to fall to her death. 

This brief and incomplete list of biblical characters from “the good book” have been offered as spiritual inspiration for countless generations.  Do these bloody tales really exemplify the most exalted way of attracting peace, justice, love, and mercy that is so yearned for in the world?  Do the citizens of the United States really aspire to use these “Bible based” or “Faith Based” examples as our principles of a just government?

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